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February 26, 2013

Sen. Kay Hagan says informal Group of 20 looking for ideas on deficit reduction

Sen. Kay Hagan, D-N.C., today said Republicans and Democrats need to get together soon on what she says should be a long-term and balanced way to trim the deficit and get rid of the automatic federal spending cuts.

Hagan told reporters in a conference call that she’s been talking to fellow senators from both parties, and has met in the past as part of a group of 20 of them. That informal group of 20 _ 10 Democrats and 10 Republicans _ has been looking to see if they can find ideas in proposals by Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson (whose latest suggestions are here. Simpson and Bowles say start with $1.5 trillion in spending cuts and later go on to more cuts and tax and entitlement reforms.

“Hopefully we can work together along those lines,” Hagan said. She said Congress often goes to the brink and then acts. That might not happen before the Friday deadline, she said, but look for more negotiations after that.

“The effects will be immediate and also long-term,” because the automatic cuts will extend for another nine years after this one, Hagan said. “Hopefully if something doesn’t take shape before Friday we will not say it’s a done deal (but) we will continue negotiating and working to solve this problem much sooner rather than later.”

Hagan told reporters she thought the automatic cuts, or sequestration, would be devastating to the military and threaten North Carolina’s fragile economic recovery.

The military cuts would include potential furloughs for 22,000 civilian employees of the Department of Defense in North Carolina. Those pay cuts would hurt North Carolina businesses, Hagan said. Hagan said she also was concerned that the automatic federal spending cuts would mean that training for militarily units that are not deploying to combat areas would be “significantly curtailed,” and some ship and aircraft maintenance would be canceled.

At the end of the call, a reporter asked Hagan what she thought about Republican Greg Brannon, a Cary, N.C., obstetrician, kicking off a campaign tomorrow in Wilmington for her job. Brannon is one of the early entries in what's expected to be a big cast of Republicans who want to try to unseat Hagan in 2014.

“I am so focused on the sequestration, the issues at hand, the debt, the deficit, the impacts of the jobs and the economy in North Carolina. I am working hard in Washington right now to solve these problems,” Hagan responded.

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